It’s not that I was some great fan of Hillary Clinton, at least not before the Democratic National Convention. I was surprised to find myself crying when she gave her speech accepting the Presidential nomination for the Democratic party. It hit me that this was a historic moment: my daughters and I might actually see a woman in the White House. That it’s 2016 and we are America – so smug and arrogant about our progressiveness – and we still haven’t put a woman in the White House is shameful and mind-boggling. But suddenly it seemed as though we were going to flex our progressive, equitable muscles.
And like many, many people, I’ve been dumbfounded to see the likes of Donald Trump rising to the level of presidential nominee for one of our two major political parties. How was it even possible that someone as vile as him – with a trail of well-documented (not just speculation, but cold, hard evidence, often in the form of video and audio of he himself saying and doing horrible things) – could make it onto the ballot?
But I took heart. There was no way that my countrymen would actually vote him into office. I mean, seriously – we’re America! I know there are a lot of racist, misogynistic, bigoted, backward people in this country, but surely not enough of them to put someone like him in office.
And Hillary’s message grew on me. Yes, we are stronger together. I was moved by her speeches. I was moved by the fact that her entire adult life has been spent in public service. I was moved by her knowledge and experience and calm demeanor, even when she was being torn down. I respected that she held her head high no matter what. She would be a good leader, I believed that.
Like a lot of people, I turned on news coverage last night expecting a very different outcome. I was pretty confident that America would see fit to put the right person in office. I really believed that she would win by a comfortable margin. When the numbers began coming in so close, I began to feel physically ill. My stomach was in knots, my heart was thudding – a bona fide anxiety attack. By the end of the night, I was in tears. I barely slept last night.
How did we get here?
I feel betrayed. I feel a great anger – not only at all the people who actually voted for Donald Trump, an unqualified, ill-tempered, vindictive, childish, racist, bigoted, xenophobic, lying, cheating, woman abuser, but for all the third party voters and abstainers who allowed this to happen. I’m sure when you wrote in your uncle’s name or your favorite cartoon character’s name or filled in the bubble for Jill Stein, you felt morally superior in the moment. Well, fuck you. You not only threw your vote away, you handed it to a monster. How do you feel now?
What am I supposed to tell my daughters? Or my sons? Do I lie to them? Or do I tell them the truth: that no, America is not ready for a female president, and we would rather have an inexperienced, loose cannon, lying, cheating, prejudice, woman assaulter in the White House than a qualified, experienced, even-tempered woman who has devoted herself to causes that serve the public interest?
I am trying to tell myself that life will go on, pretty much as usual. That this will have very little effect on my family’s daily existence. But I don’t know if that’s actually true. I fear that the likes of Trump will drag us into another recession, that he cares so little about diplomacy and foreign policy that he will drag us into a horrible war. I don’t think those fears are unfounded. But even if my family’s lives aren’t impacted much, it would be utterly selfish to not worry about all the immigrants who now have to worry about deportation and having their families ripped apart, about the LGBT community who now has to worry about their marriages being nullified, about the Muslims who will be harassed and scrutinized and distrusted because Trump thinks they’re all potential terrorists. And even if my day-to-day life goes on as usual, I live with the knowledge that my family lives in a country in which lying and cheating get a pass, sexual assault against women is acceptable, that abusers aren’t held accountable.
I am sickened. And very, very afraid.